“You're fucked,” the public defender said. “Should
my advice and pled guilty. You’re a target now. District Attorney’s zeroed in
on you.” Dee’s cell lit up to Mick Jagger howling Monkey Man. She
tapped ignore. “Prick bail bond wants my car as
“Given your past criminal sheet, you’re lucky the
didn’t remand you without bail,” the lawyer said.
“I’m not entirely free; got this electronic ankle
clamped to me,” Dee said.
“Twenty-two FTA’s, prostitution, loitering, paraphernalia,
vagrancy, public nuisance, plus two previous prison terms, District Attorney's
gonna hold your past against you at trial.”
“I been busy, no denying that,” Dee said.
“Now it’s possession and trafficking of a controlled
substance; Metro found nearly a kilo of cut coke in your apartment after your
“Kiss off six-thousand dollars on that one,” Dee
“Then, selling rocks to three different undercover cops
week. Three counts of possession with intent to sell, and three counts of
selling the shit,” the lawyer said. “There’s more: a third felony conviction qualifies
you for the ‘Three Strikes Rule,’ Habitual Criminal Act, the Big Bitch, career
criminal, twenty-five to life. Add that to your eight felony charges.”
The massive oak double doors to Court Room Three down the
hall swung swiftly open. A cuffed and shackled prisoner flanked by two marshals
palming their holstered pistol grips shuffled out. All three had just emerged
from the convict’s sentence hearing. He hobbled down the arched ceiling hall,
his chrome steel ankle chains beating the polished marble floor with wrecking
ball gusto. As the condemned man past Dee, he looked in her direction and said,
“Hey babe; How ‘bout a conjugal visit later?” The marshal to his left slapped
the back of the prisoner’s head and said, “Shut the fuck up, asshole, death row
inmates don’t get visits.”
Dee silently mulled
her fate, then said, “They knew. The fucking cops knew about the brick of coke.
Some rock fiend bitch snitched on me, set me up,” Dee said.
shifted to her right hip on the unforgiving pew-style oak bench in the
courthouse hall and rested her weight on the other cheek. She crossed her
silky sculpted legs. Her black satin mini skirt crept
further up her thighs, exposing charms moneyed tricks once emptied their
wallets to see.
“Who knows. Maybe! But you’re still
fucked,” the lawyer said.
said. “Sounds like you’re arguing the DA’s case. Why trust you? You and the DA
are on the same payroll, aren’t you? Same team, same game, Right?” She waved
her open palm back and forth in his line of sight. “Who’s working for who here?”
The courtroom opposite
Dee’s bench emptied en masse as if the sluice gate of justice opened the flood
gate from Hell. Some left smiling, quiet, content, others whimpered regret, the
hardened ones mumbled vengeful oaths, the rest stared blank-eyed stunned like a
herd of deer trying to flee a busy freeway. Two opposing female lawyers
followed last. “My calendar is free the rest of the day,” one said.
“Mine, too,” said the other. “Let’s get
a martini and wash
down our sins.” Their spiked heels clicked the stone floor loud as driven nails.
“If the jury finds against you, D.A.’s
gonna push each conviction be served consecutive plus the Big Bitch as a kicker
after. You’ll serve half your sentence in an unmarked prison cemetery grave.”
“The fucks want to keep the body?” Dee said.
“And your soul,” the lawyer said. “District
deal. Offer up the Mayor, and he still won’t. Truth is if you’re convicted,
which the jury’s sure to do, it won’t be for these current charges; rather, their
verdict will be a between-the-lines statement condemning you as a liability to
society. To them, you’ll be a pulp crime novel they’d rather not read. You
won’t be able to charm your way out of this like you do your tricks’.”
“So I’m born again, a Bonnie Parker: Where’s
Clyde when I
need him?” Dee said.
“Let’s say I’m not on the same payroll as the
public defender said. “Instead, you’re the money: I’d still paint the same
* * *
The dating service she worked for
dropped her. Dee had lost the use of her posh high-rise sixth-floor studio
apartment. She fell 2 months short on rent, and management changed the lock.
Metro detectives and the IRS confiscated all her possessions as evidence on the
heroin bust. Her Camaro convertible disappeared too. The bail bondsman drove it
now and did not intend to give it back, even if she repaid him the required 10
percent of the three-hundred thousand dollar bail money. She rented a weekly
second-floor bug-ridden room at the Liberty motel on Fremont and Eastern—smack
alley—in downtown Vegas. Even if she had slipped out of her ankle bracelet
often enough to hustle as many tricks as there were roaches in her room, there
was no chance she could afford to pay the bondsman back sucking off drunks ten
times daily at twenty dollars apiece. She was accustomed to eight hundred
dollars per trick before her employer’s cut.
* * *
upcoming trial shadowed her last days free. She passed
the time dwelling on her scandalous past, her limited prospects in prison, and
luring as many tricks as she could from
the balcony of her second-floor room before
she had to appear.
was an 80-degree Las Vegas May afternoon, the day before Dee’s trial, perfect
weather to tune up her faded tan. Dee sat on a worn, thin vinyl-covered chair atop the second-floor balcony outside her
door. She had slumped back. She clipped her cut off
short, exposing too much of her. She crossed her sculpted legs at the
ankles and propped her shoeless feet on the dry rotting wobbly wood rail,
protecting her from the world forty feet below. Braless, Dee wore a man’s tight-fitting
sleeveless undershirt. She had cut a generous V
well past the neckline that tapered just below her
breasts meant to lure passing tricks to her room. The customized Guinea tee
exposed as much of her
cleavage as the law allowed. Her erect
nipples stabbed the ribbed cotton competing to
escape their shroud. Dee twisted the top off a
pint of Wild Berry Mad Dog 20/20, flicked the cap over the rail, measured three
fingers worth on the bottle, and washed down four Xanax. She lit a primo joint
stuffed with industrial-grade Mexican pot laced with stepped-on coke. She
drained the Mad Dog and mused, Is this
how it ends? Is my life like this coke, stepped on twice?
Dee stood up, grabbed the post securing the
wobbly wood rail. She climbed up from the chair
onto the flat side of the horizontal two-by-four banister. The rotting
wood verticals supporting her moaned in terror under her slight female frame.
She married both feet together, heel to heel, dangling
her toes over the edge. She let go of the post and crooned Good night Irene, good
night, see you in my dreams, lifted her
heels, teetered forward on the balls of her feet to test how far from the brink
she was willing to go.
Prusky’s work has appeared in Close to the
Bone, A Twist of Noir, In the Gutter and other Webzines.